06 June 2013

It works!!!

power to rock

Tunes power me up steep climbs. I like to listen to my iPhone while I'm riding uphill, although never with earbuds.

I have a cheap ($10) little portable speaker and MP3 player case I picked up about three or four years ago at, of all places, Bed Bath & Beyond. The case clips right onto my bike, and it provides a safe haven for my tunes library of choice.

Initially I used my iPod because I didn't have an iPhone. When I bought my first (refurbished and two generations back) iPhone (because the cheap mobile phone service I'd been paying $10 a month for was worthless where I live), I found I have better music volume control with the phone, plus, the speaker case provides easier on-the-fly access to the camera and phone functions than my Camelbak.

Then came Ride the Rockies last year.

Charging any Apple product can be an issue for anyone, but on a weeklong bike ride with limited recharging opportunities, well, it doesn't take long before you kiss your iPhone power goodbye.

An iPod will give you a couple of days of tunes before it bites the dust without a recharge, but an iPhone draws much more power, especially when it is using GPS services for apps such as weather, mapping and web searches for local businesses. GPS functions may be turned off to conserve power, but sometimes those services are necessary or highly desirable. Such as accurate weather forecasts each day of riding up to 90 miles from one town to the next for seven days straight.

First thing we learned last year was to pack a power strip this year so we can charge multiple devices at one time when we do have access to a wall socket. In addition to my iPhone, we also needed to charge two bicycle headlights each night, as I leave before the sun comes up each day.

(Most of the schools where we camped last year offered unlimited access to power supplies, and some even offered power strips. But with 2,000 riders needing recharging at the same time, well, I could listen to tunes during only parts of long days and I didn't snap many iPhone photos at all. I was too tired and sore most of the time to pull my little Fuji camera out of the Camelbak.)

When we got home from Ride the Rockies, I promptly researched solar recharging possibilities, since each day of RtR provides about 8 to 10 hours of available charging time right on the back of my Camelbak. I invested in a Nomad 3.5 portable solar panel and Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus, which includes a set of 4 rechargeable AA batteries and all the required cords for charging a number of different devices.


I had planned to try out the unit during the MS-150 the day or so after the new equipment arrived. Unfortunately, I'd unknowingly injured my back three months earlier, and I was unable to ride for months. It didn't take long to forget all about solar charging and jamming while pedaling.

Now here we are, just a few days away from this year's RtR, and it was time to test this modern technology to see if it works and can be depended upon.

that does not compute

Because I'm an airhead blonde and failed to comprehend the instructions I actually did read before plugging the iPhone directly into the Goal 10 power unit, I got this ugly screen warning me the power source was not valid.

Read the instructions, Blondie!

I went on the internet to find out what the heck was wrong with this thing because reviews said it did indeed work on an iPhone 4, which I upgraded to for a penny a few months ago. Not only did I find the answers I sought, but the Nomad has a printed warning, right in plain sight, to discharge the power into the battery pack and use THAT to charge smartphones and other high tech devices.


I also learned the Nomad will not fully charge in overcast conditions. Good to know, since Colorado can be cloudy in June. If we're not in drought.

iPod success

I charged the Nomad through my sunshine-facing bedroom window for about two hours, and was able to charge both iPhones and the iPod successfully. Woohoo!

Oh, and the rechargeable AA batteries in the Goal Zero unit work in the portable speaker case, too. Yippee!!!

As a result of this glorious experiment, I will be toting a little extra weight on my pack this year, allowing the Nomad to scoop up power from the sun each day of Ride the Rockies. We'll also take a power strip, just in case.


Best of all, I will be spending zero dollars on batteries, and I'll hopefully be able to take more photos along the way this year. I'll be able to enjoy a little bit more of each host community instead of spending my entire non-riding portion of this year's vacation sitting by a power outlet waiting for the iPhone to charge every single night!

charged up


  1. That is a great way to do it. Hate having to wait on the friggin battery to charge up. I usually turn my phone off when out and about for that reason, plus the whole radiation thing.

    1. That's the nice thing about carrying it on my handlebars, Pat. I don't have to worry about the radiation there. Hopefully...

  2. You seem to have found a good solution for your iphone charging. I have used a portable mobile charger that I got from Amazon.com. When charged up it will serve as an extra battery for the iphone. It costs less than $5 so is probably worth a try. It has worked for me. Check it out.

    1. Thanks, TG! I just may have to check into that as a backup to the backup!

  3. We sure live in an amazing world of electronics!

    1. Yes, we do, Karen, and I think I'm pretty happy about that.


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